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The Inheritor's Powder: A Cautionary Tale of Poison, Betrayal and Greed Kindle Edition
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In 1833 Plumstead (London) , George Bodle - and some of his household - were stricken with violent symptoms after partaking of coffee. Evidence pointed to poison, but who was to blame: a disgruntled servant? George's feckless grandson? Or his son - largely and inexplicably cut out of the Will, and seemingly eager to put the blame on his son. What about George's beloved son-in-law, who stood to inherit the lion's share?
The author takes us through the trial and also through the infancy of toxicology, as various scientists attempted - with varying degrees of success - to test definitively for arsenic.
An intriguing story, though I felt Ms Hempel digressed rather a lot, bringing in every random piece of information she had uncovered
The story told throughout the book is the case of the poisoning of George Bodle in Plumstead village in November 1833 - a well off landowner and how the authorities investigated the death and tried to build a case against the accused. Through the account of this case (and other contemporary crimes), the author charts the development of forensic science, the changing role of those in the medical profession and the change in attitude towards poisons.
When you have finished the book you will be truly amazed as to how forensics and police procedures have moved on in 180 years as well as having been treated to an excellent true crime story.
I decided to read this book after hearing it on Radio 4 as their "Book of the week". The actual printed book is much more interesting and informative than the radio adaptation. The book was very well researched and the author's interest in the subject is evident. This is a must read for fans of Georgian / Victorian true crime. The book also has a good notes section and index.
Meanwhile, a previously unknown chemist attempts to prove the presence of the fatal powder within its victims' bodies.
Hempel's fabulously colourful and graphic description throughout leave you convinced that you have witnessed the horrors first hand.
A truly wonderful read.
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